Currying in JavaScript

Currying is a process in functional programming in which we can transform a function with multiple arguments into a sequence of nesting functions. It returns a new function that expects the next argument inline.

In other words, when a function, instead of taking all arguments at one time, takes the first one and return a new function that takes the second one and returns a new function which takes the third one, and so forth, until all arguments have been fulfilled.

That is, when we turn a function call sum(1,2,3) into sum(1)(2)(3)

The number of arguments a function takes is also called arity

function sum(a, b) {
// do something
}
function _sum(a, b, c) {
// do something
}

Function sum takes two arguments (2-arity function) and _sum takes three arguments (3-arity function).

Curried functions are constructed by chaining closures by defining and immediately returning their inner functions simultaneously.

Why it’s useful❓🤔

  1. Currying helps we avoid passing the same variable again and again
  2. It helps to create a higher order function

Currying transforms a function with multiple arguments into a sequence/series of functions each taking a single argument.

Example:

function sum(a, b, c) {
return a + b + c;
}

This function takes three numbers, add the numbers and returns the result.

sum(1,2,3); // 6

As we see, function with the full arguments. Let’s create a curried version of the function and see how we would call the same function (and get the same result) in a series of calls:

function sum(a) {
return (b) => {
return (c) => {
return a + b + c
}
}
}
console.log(sum(1)(2)(3)) // 6

We could separate this sum(1)(2)(3) to understand it better:

const sum1 = sum(1);
const sum2 = sum1(2);
const result = sum2(3);
console.log(result); // 6

Let's get to know how it works:

We passed 1 to the sum function:

let sum1 = sum(1);

It returns the function:

return (b) => {
return (c) => {
return a + b + c
}
}

Now, sum1 holds the above function definition which takes an argument b.

We called the sum1 function, passing in 2:

let sum2 = sum1(2);

The sum1 will return the third function:

return (c) => {
return a + b + c
}

The returned function is now stored in sum2 variable.

sum2 will be:

sum2 = (c) => {
return a + b + c
}

When sum2 is called with 3 as the parameter,

const result = sum2(3);

It does the calculation with the previously passed in parameters: a = 1, b = 2 and returns 6.

console.log(result); // 6

The last function only accepts c variable but will perform the operation with other variables whose enclosing function scope has long since returned. It works nonetheless because of Closure

Currying & Partial Application 👩🏻‍💻

Some might start to think that the number of nested functions a curried function has depends on the number of arguments it receives. Yes, that makes it a curry.

Let's take same sum example:

function sum(a) {
return (b, c) => {
return a * b * c
}
}

It can be called like this:

let x = sum(10);
x(3,12);
x(20,12);
x(20,13);
// OR
sum(10)(3,12);
sum(10)(20,12);
sum(10)(20,13);

Above function expects 3 arguments and has 2 nested functions, unlike our previous version that expects 3 arguments and has 3nesting functions.

This version isn’t a curry. We just did a partial application of the sum function.

Currying and Partial Application are related (because of closure), but they are of different concepts.

Partial application transforms a function into another function with smaller arity.

function sum1(x, y, z) {
return sum2(x,y,z)
}
// to
function sum1(x) {
return (y,z) => {
return sum2(x,y,z)
}
}
function sum1(x) {
return (y) => {
return (z) => {
return sum2(x,y,z)
}
}
}

Currying creates nesting functions according to the number of the arguments of the function. Each function receives an argument. If there is no argument there is no currying.

To develop a function that takes a function and returns a curried function:

function currying(fn, ...args) {
return (..._arg) => {
return fn(...args, ..._arg);
}
}

The above function accepts a function (fn) that we want to curry and a variable number of parameters(…args). The rest operator is used to gather the number of parameters after fn into ...args.

Next, we return a function that also collects the rest of the parameters as …_args. This function invokes the original function fn passing in ...args and ..._args through the use of the spread operator as parameters, then, the value is returned to the user.

Now, we can use the above function to create curry function.

function sum(a,b,c) {
return a + b + c
}
let add = currying(sum,10);
add(20,90); // 120
add(70,60); // 140

Closure makes currying possible in JavaScript. I hope you have learned something new about currying!

Thanks for reading this article ♥️

If you have any question, please feel free to ping me on @suprabhasupi 😋